Fourth Estate/Erica Munisar

44th Student Senate passes legislation regarding voting rights, diversity and events


During the Wyche-Palumbo administration, the 44th Student Senate passed dozens of legislation pieces relating to diversity, voting rights, university funding, town halls, hosted events and world topics. Some legislation included free items for students such as scantrons, self-care products and other items. Of the total legislation, 13 pieces were highlighted. The full list of legislation can be publicly viewed on Student Senate’s legislation log

B. #29 A Bill to Allocate Funds for Student Government Provided Test Materials

Sponsored by Sen. Griffin Crouch and co-sponsored by Sen. Christopher Tatum, Student Senate passed a bill to provide 500 free SC982-E scantrons to students for their exams. A total of $115.40 was allocated from Mason Student Government.

The free scantrons can be found in the committee room, room 2306 in The Hub. 

R. #31 A Resolution to Respectfully Observe Transgender Day of Remembrance

Sponsored by Sen. Bas Rawat and co-sponsored by 10 Senators, a resolution was passed to observe the Transgender Day of Rememberance on Nov. 20. The resolution referred to former President Barack Obama, President Joseph Biden, the Trevor Project, Pride Alliance, the Queer Student & Leadership Council (QSLC), Women and Gender Studies Center, LGBTQ+ Resource Center and Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment.

“In 2012 then-President Barack Obama became the first president to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance… Whereas, in 2021 President Joseph Biden became the first president to issue a proclamation to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance,” the resolution said. 

“Student Senate of George Mason University recognizes and mourns each of the transgender individuals killed this year, and… recognizes the existence of and affirms their support for the transgender community on campus.”

R. #33 A Resolution to Support Mason Lobbies

Sponsored by Sen. Ilia Sheikholeslami and co-sponsored by six Senators, Mason Lobbies is a yearly event hosted by Mason Student Government which “allows students the opportunity to lobby state legislators in Richmond on issues affecting them as students at Mason,” the resolution said.

This year during Mason Lobbies, 71 people, not including faculty, attended Mason Lobbies in Richmond according to Sen. Sheikholeslami. The topic of the year was lobbying for university funding.

“I thought today [was] outstanding,” President Dr. Gregory Washington said at this year’s Mason Lobbies. “I’m really proud of how the students engaged. I got a lot of great comments from our elected officials, and that’s going to pay huge dividends for the resources that [will] come to this campus because of it.”

“Thank [you] for engaging and showing up, and being a part of this. You all don’t know how much you being here means to the support of our campus,” Dr. Washington said.

B. #34 A Bill to Allocate Funds for the Presidential Discretionary Fund (GIVE BLACK Summit)

Sponsored by Sen. Austin Emery and co-sponsored by Sen. Rawat, Student Senate approved a $200 budget for the GIVE BLACK Summit, featuring giveaway items like wire floral place card holders, face masks, snacks, As I Am daily moisturizer, hair spray, hair scrunchies, PURE AROMA essential oils, sleeping bonnets and a durag.

The initiative was originally created by Student Body President Paul Wyche under the Wyche-Palumbo platform. “Initiative GIVE B(L)ACK [is] a service-based event during Black History Month with the goal of giving back and supporting black-owned businesses in the community,” the Wyche-Palumbo platform said.

R. #35 A Resolution to Support Know Your Rights: Protests & Rallies on Campus

Sponsored by Sen. Griffin Crouch and co-sponsored by 14 Senators, the resolution aimed to clarify rights for protestors on Mason’s campuses.

“Protests, both from individuals and crowds, at George Mason University campuses has often been sources of controversy to the student body due to considerable aggrieved and offensive attacks directed at students and non-students, even including those not engaged with an ongoing protest or discussion but merely being nearby,” the resolution said.

“This campaign intends to ensure a level playing field for everyone at Mason, by spreading awareness about rules protest and rallies for students, members of the general public and faculty,” Crouch said in an article with Fourth Estate about the initiative.

“Don’t be afraid to exercise your First Amendment free speech, always try to be civil and respectful, and Know Your Rights,” Crouch said in the article.

R. #40 A Resolution to Support the Mental Health Language Playbook

Sponsored by Sen. Zara Saemi and co-sponsored by Sen. Austin Emery, the resolution supported a Mental Health Language Playbook which was created by Mason’s Mental Health and Well-Being Task Force.

The playbook encourages the use of certain language surrounding mental health. According to the playbook, it suggests replacing “stigmatizing” phrases such as “substance abuse”, “mentally ill” and “committed suicide” with “respectful” phrases like “person living with a mental illness”, “substance use” and “died by suicide”.

“Student Government at Mason is a strong advocate for the well-being and mental health of all students and by recognizing the Mental Health language playbook, Student Government can raise awareness and decrease the stigma,” the resolution said.

R. #41 A Resolution to Promote the Town Hall

Sponsored by Senator Caden Garofalo and co-sponsored by Sen. Andres Moreira-Mendez, Student Government hosted a Student Town Hall on Feb. 7. During the Town Hall, students were given the opportunity to ask President Dr. Gregory Washington about Israel, Palestine, funding and security.

“Student Government should continue to push for town halls to become a general habit of George Mason,” the resolution said.

B. #43 A Bill to Allocate Funds for Destress Fest Spring 2024

Sponsored by Sen. Madison Hepler and co-sponsored by Sens. Crouch and Lee Turner, Mason Student Government allocated $70.67 for products such as Hershey’s Kisses, cookie packs, gum packages, chip variety bags, fruit snacks and caffeinated drink mixes to be distributed to students during the recent exam period.

“Student Government acknowledges the significance of boosting student self-assurance during the exam period, thereby enhancing their overall academic experience,” the paired resolution said.

R. #46 A Resolution to Support the April 11th Farmer’s Market

Sponsored by Sen. Hepler and co-sponsored by Sens. Maria Cuesta and Crouch, Student Government aims to regularly host Farmer’s Markets for students. Often featuring local and sustainable businesses, the Farmer’s Markets were started by the previous Student Body President Sophia Nguyen.

“Previous Farmer’s Market events held by Student Government had a wide appeal to the student body, as well as a huge demand that encouraged Student Government to plan more Farmer’s Market events,” the resolution said.

According to the paired code bill, Student Government allocated a total of $870.14 to the recent April 11 Farmer’s Market, featuring terracotta flower pots, drawstring gift bags, spring themed stickers, small wooden flowers, two picnic blankets, Lavender Daisy Poms and Gerbera White Daisies.

R. #47 A Resolution to Survey Students on ‘Just Societies’ in Mason Core

The resolution, which was sponsored by Sen. Cuesta and co-sponsored by five senators, aims to anonymously survey students on Mason’s Just Societies initiative. According to Mason Core, “The Just Societies requirement is aligned with Mason’s commitment to preparing students to act in a diverse, global world,” Mason Core said.

“This program has been under a high degree of scrutiny and changes have been discussed that may threaten its core characteristics and benefits… the Student Government supports creating and promoting a survey asking for student feedback on this program,” the resolution said. 

Regarding claims of scrutiny against the Just Societies initiative, GMU AAUP President and Associate Professor Timothy Gibson presented a petition by the organization to a recent Board of Visitors meeting on April 2. The petition, which has over 300 signatures, claimed that “multiple board members voiced opposition to the new Just Societies flag in the Mason Core and claimed that the Board had the authority to make unilateral changes to Mason’s curriculum,” the petition said.

R. #49 A Resolution to Inquire into the Determination and Allocation of Housing, Dining, and Parking Rates

The resolution, which was sponsored by Sen. Gabriel Curtis and co-sponsored by Sen. Garofalo, cites rising costs for housing, parking and dining plans on campus. It was revealed that the student rate for Mason Pond and Shenandoah raised by over double its price since 2022.

“Mason Student Government commits to providing students with an explanation of how much money is raised from students for these revenue sources and what exactly this money is spent on,” the resolution said.

R. #50 A Resolution to Support the Student Government Women’s History Month Event

Sponsored by Sen. Kaylee Fernandez and co-sponsored by 10 Senators, the resolution approved “a panel of both professional and student experiences while discussing matters of women’s history, contemporary experiences, and other relevant dialogue,” the resolution said.

After the panel discussion, a networking event would take place featuring refreshments from women-owned businesses. A paired code bill allocated $270.50 to include gift bag contents such as Korean face masks, under-eye masks, lip masks, lip balm, pens and notepads.

R. #61 A Resolution to Boycott and Divest from Israel and Corporations Complicit in The Ongoing Genocide and Apartheid in Palestine

Sponsored by Sen. Rawat and co-sponsored by Sen. Ellie Fox, Student Senate passed a resolution in which “Student Government commits to upholding BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] policies and practices” and “working with Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) such as Students for Justice in Palestine to consult further and apply BDS policies internally,” the resolution said.

“Student Government of George Mason University urges all parties to implement an immediate ceasefire, return all hostages, and allow for the passage of humanitarian aid,” the resolution said.